Following their sell out show in November when three times the expected audience showed up to pack the foyer, Noel Lennon, director of Music Theatre West brought his winning combination of vocal, strings and his impeccable piano accompaniment back to Glór, Ennis for another Evening of Cello and Song, this time moving into the main auditorium.
The programme, titled 'Hear My Song' was a box of musical all-sorts, well loved classics, Irish airs and showstoppers that judging by the gasps and contented murmurs that peppered the evening went down a treat with the audience. The concert opened suitably with a prelude, the well known one from Bach's G Major Cello Suite with the remainder of the trio creeping on and seguing in to a medley from Les Mis. Sublime is a word, reviewers are advised to use sparingly but it is the first word that comes to mind when attempting to describe Péter Sebestyén's playing. That and; thrilling, mesmerising and utterly beguiling!
The lyrical numbers were a delight. Fauré's, Impressionist, Apres Une Reve seemed perfect for a summer evening, a piece originally conceived for violin much more sonorous and dreamy on the deeper cello tones. A rich and expressive Mendelssohn's Song without Words wrapped us all in a great big warm duvet of sound . The steeliness in this mild mannered softly spoken Hungarian was apparent in the vigour of his attack in the fiendishly difficult numbers that best showcased his consummate virtuoso skills. Saint Saen's, Allegro Appassionato was delivered in the first half with polish and elan only to be superceded on the jaw dropping register by a a set of Paganini Variations after the interval.
Tenor, Peter O 'Donohue was recovering for a bout of illness and while not flying at full vocal throttle, there was plenty to enjoy in his contribution. The Glor auditorium has a dry acoustic for singers and the tenor was lightly amplified on this occasion Peter is currently busy working mostly in the Irish opera scene in between his farming duties. He delivered the Neapolitan numbers with charm and panache, adapting his style to give the traditional Irish airs a more appropriate lighter touch. Just to show our critical faculties are working we have to add that Deep River was just a tad out of his range.
The programme was conceived and directed from the piano by Music Theatre West impressario Noel Lennon. When considering accompanists I am reminded of the old chestnut about Fred and Ginger . Rogers matched everything Astaire did but backwards on high heels yet Fred is the one under the spotlight. Lennon is the most sympathetic accompanist. He seems to almost pour himself into the piano in his efforts to follow every nuance in the cello or vocal line . Indeed my only criticism is that we could have stood it for the spotlight to fall on his keyboard alone for at least a Chopin minute or two. That and composers/ arrangers names to be credited on the programme notes please.
This was the second time in a matter of days that we have had top notch classical music presented by locally based musicians without it seems any formal sponsorship from state or corporate bodies. Quin based soprano, Helen Houlihan launched her lunchtime recital series in Ennis on Thursday. Noel Lennon under the banner of Music Theatre West has consistently brought artistry of the highest standard to the Shannon arena. Many of us there last night have heard all three performers before, but there was a sense that we couldn't believe just how good they were. What magic they created, lifting us all with them out of the black box space to a higher plane. They are extraordinary musicians that would grace any international stage and you feel fortunate to have been there to hear their song and blessed to have them working and performing among us. These artists are needing and deserving of our support. Keep it live- Go along and hear them!
Edel O Brien and Irina Dernova play at St Columba's 1.05 pm June 20th
MTW Trio at foyer performance in November